A wonderful woman in our area that has volunteered her help to hurricane victims since the storm struck is sharing some amazing and tragic stories.

The stories are heart wrenching.  Here are just a few of them, in her words:

One that really sticks with me is about Mr. & Mrs. H.  Planning on retiring, Mrs. H. had just finished remodeling her entire first floor.  With new furniture and flooring, the decorations in place and her window treatments just four days old when Sandy struck...and the super storm stole everything she had so lovingly chosen.  With insurance red tape and not total coverage, their FEMA money affords them to stay at our local Budget Inn (which is NOT our nicest motel, respectfully speaking).  The stress of the storm, the change in scenery, and lack of heat and water, the H's dog of 15 years, passed away. R.H, as he's wiping tears, tells me that he doesn't ask for help, he's the one that always has provided the help; however, he HAS to ask, because he has Cancer.  In August, he was scheduled to begin Dialysis, and surprisingly, his Prostate Cancer was discovered already in Stage 3.  The Dialysis was not prescribed, and after several months of injections, he is due to begin radiation treatments Dec 4.  Mr. H's coin collection was stolen from the basement of their home during the days they themselves were not permitted to enter it.  E and R cry a few tears over stress and stuff lost, their frustrations are mounting over the costs of the clean up and rebuilding of their home, their plans of retirement stolen by a storm; but with ALL of that, it's the least of their worries.  Their son, 45, has stage 4 cancer.  

Mrs. H has a very clear reality: already lost her beloved dog, she may lose her son, husband, and home before the end of 2013.  How do you fix that?? 
The 70 year old man that sat in water, sewage and oil for days on end wiping off pictures of his beloved and deceased wife...panicked to leave and have his stuff thrown away.  He states to us as we encourage him to come get lunch, "My wife died.  My memory is fading.  I can't have my pictures thrown away, too, because this is all I have left."  
A woman whom did not take part in the initial voluntary evacuation, stayed behind and spent the day rescuing others to safety, pulling people from their homes, helping neighbors collect their stuff.  As the town called for a mandatory evacuation, a tree fell and trapped her and her family in their own home.  She watched the water seep in, rise, and ruin her entire home, flood her two cars, and destroy nearly everything she owned.  Three boys to raise.  A home to replace. Relying on others to get to work. And no contents insurance.
The family of ten that lost their entire house only to learn they didn't have flood insurance.  As some of their appliances were removed from their home, (including a prized claw foot tub that was planned for a bathroom remodel), strangers helped themselves to their belongings....all stolen.  Fortunately, able to stay at a small family home during this difficult time and have a chance to get somewhat back on their feet, all of the children's bikes were stolen.  From the kindness of friends & strangers, bags of clothing and supplies were left on their front porch....and yes, stolen.  
On an empty lot, debris is collected from our neighborhood.  The tally of that debris collection as of last week was a hefty $900,000; and sadly, the streets still are not clean.  Power is still not restored in areas.  Cars have been towed and lost.  Homes have been marked with spray paint for demolition.  As I drove through the streets of our town delivering lunches with some volunteers from Pa, they were in shock over the devastation of this money generating beach town.  National Guard trucks on every bridge and sitting on the beaches to prevent looters via boat.  Dump trucks and bull dozers where our boardwalk used to be.  As large cranes picked up massive piles of debris on peoples curbs, dropping them into the Federal Disaster Relief Corp trucks, one of the volunteers stated, "Wow.  Look at all that garbage...."  My answer was as honest as it was heartbreaking, "That's not garbage.  That's these people's lives sitting on this curbside."  And whatever tangible memories they cherished, now in a mass of growing proportions on a lot that serves as our beach parking during the busy summer months....
With every day, it's a fine line between being obscenely overwhelmed and insanely motivated.....
Gratefully yours,
Dana Connelly
For more information on Dana's work to help hurricane victims and how you can help, visit SquanStrong on Facebook or call The Borough of Manasquan for details.